According to the American Pet Products Association, approximately 69 million households across the U.S. own a dog. Millions of pet owners love their dogs as much as you do and want to protect them from harm. In fact, data collected by the Mintel group showed an increase in the humanization of pets, with owners feeding them vitamins and other supplements and nutritious snacks to promote good health.
From feeding them healthy wet dog food to staying up-to-date on your dog’s vaccines, there are several ways that you can protect your pooch. Whether you’re a seasoned pet parent or a first-time dog owner, use the following tips to keep your dog safe and healthy, so they can enjoy a long and happy life.
1. Feed Them a Healthy Diet
Feeding your dog a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to support their well-being. A balanced diet gives your dog all the essential nutrients they need to thrive and keep their body and mind in peak condition.
While it can be tempting to feed your dog table scraps or human food, many human foods are toxic to dogs, like onions, garlic, and chocolate, and even those that are safe can upset their delicate digestive system. Table scraps are also high in calories, contributing to obesity and other health problems.
Feed your dog a commercial dog food that is well-balanced and made to meet your dog’s exact nutritional needs. When selecting wet and dry dog food, as well as treats, supplements, and freeze dried dog food toppings, look for one suitable for your dog’s age, breed, and activity level.
2. Stay Up-to-Date on Vaccinations
Staying up-to-date on vaccinations helps protect your dog from serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, such as rabies, canine distemper virus (CVD) and parvovirus.
There are several core vaccines, including DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus) and rabies. There are also vaccines that aren’t required, like those for influenza and Lyme disease. Depending on where you live, how old your dog is, and how healthy he or she is in general, your vet may suggest those vaccines.
Your vet can also provide information on the ideal vaccination schedule for your dog. Puppies typically need core vaccines every 6 weeks for their first 4 months of life, then again at 12 months old.
Vaccines are not just given to puppies, and most vaccines require more than a single dose. Dogs need booster shots at regular intervals to maintain protection against diseases. Some vaccines may need to be given annually, like DHPP or leptospirosis, while others may last several years, like rabies.
Failing to keep your dog up-to-date on vaccinations can put them at risk for serious and potentially life-threatening diseases.
3. Never Leave Your Dog in the Car
Leaving your dog in a parked car is a dangerous practice. Cars can quickly become hot boxes, even on seemingly mild days, putting your dog at risk for heatstroke and other serious health problems.
A car parked for an hour in the sun on a 95°F day can reach over 116°F, while the dashboard and steering wheel can hit even higher temperatures that can cause skin burns. Dogs cannot sweat, making it difficult to regulate their body temperature. As a result, dogs left in parked cars are at risk of suffering from heatstroke, which can cause severe organ damage and even death.
4. Train Your Dog How to Come When Called
To get your dog to come back to you, you have to be more interesting than everyone else.
This is an extremely important behavior to teach your dog because it keeps them safe and allows them to enjoy and benefit from off-leash exercise. When your dog responds when called, it is less likely to engage in dangerous behaviors like running into traffic. It also means you can control your pet in off-leash areas and prevent it from destroying property or approaching other animals or people.
To train your dog, start by offering a reward, such as high-quality dog treats, praise, or play, every time your dog comes to you when called. To ensure consistency, choose a simple command such as “here” or “come.” Begin training in a controlled environment with few distractions, such as your backyard. Then, as your dog gets better, you can move to places where there are more distractions, like dog parks or the street.
5. Secure Your Yard
Securing your yard is crucial for protecting your dog in several ways. A secure yard helps keep your dog safe from potential dangers such as other animals, traffic, or hazards like sharp objects or poisonous plants like cyclamen or oleander. In some places, there are also laws and rules that say dog owners have to keep their yards locked so their dogs don’t run away or escape.
Install a fence or a GPS tracker on your dog’s collar to secure your yard. Invest in a dog enclosure for smaller breeds or keep them indoors when you aren’t home to supervise them. However, ensure that you walk your dog if you keep them indoors or in an enclosure. Walk your dog two to three times a day for at least 10 to 15 minutes. This allows them ample time to relieve themselves and prevents boredom and destructive behavior.
6. Store Household Cleaning Products Out of Reach
To keep your dog from getting hurt, it’s important to keep cleaning products out of reach. Many cleaning products contain harmful chemicals, like peroxide or chlorine bleach, that can be toxic to dogs if they are ingested or come into contact with their skin. When these products are eaten, they can cause serious health problems like vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing, and even death.
Keep cleaning products out of reach by storing them in a locked cabinet or placing them on a high shelf. Make sure all products have the right labels, and learn the signs of poisoning, such as seizures, loss of appetite, or changes in behavior. This gives you the chance to act quickly if your dog gets into something bad.
Ensure Your Dog’s Safety
Protecting your dog is a crucial aspect of being a responsible pet owner. Taking care of your dog and keeping an eye on his environment can help him live a long, happy, and healthy life. Remember, your dog depends on you for safety and comfort; taking these steps shows your love and commitment to your pet.